Bell Magic vs Merlin/sitting vs kneeling


– Last Updated: Nov-17-09 10:38 PM EST –

It's an interesting challenge to try to find a boat or boats that suit you best. I've had the pleasure of paddling a lot of solos over the years. Like you said, all had their strengths, but some of them were more suited to my preferred paddling style than others.

I'm currently back to the first solo I ever bought, the Swift Osprey. I love how easy it is to paddle and how it seems to know where I want to go almost as soon as I do.

The Magic was as perfectly suited to my preferred type of paddling (long days and long distances) as anything I've ever owned. I wish I hadn't had to sell mine, and that I'd had the foresight to replace it before the Bell company changed hands and material costs skyrocketed. The Wilderness, which is my second boat, is a very pleasant and competent paddling boat that I should be able to use for as long as I can get out on the water, but I've never been able to muster the same enthusiasm for paddling it that I had for getting out in the Magic.

It has been fun watching you try out different boats and narrow down what you want out of a canoe. I hope you are enjoying the process as much as I am watching you go through it.

Sure we’re lovin’ it!
Its his money…not our’n. We ran out of that long ago the same way.

Yes…it is fun…
That is the other thing. I admit I am a bit crazy when it comes to boats…openly admited that up front. I have been through the same thing with kayaks too.

However…it is fun! And I learn a lot from it. It teaches me a lot about what i want as a paddler, teaches me about me as a paddler, and provides me a very valuable understanding of the nuances of boat design and its impact on performance which I find fascinating. I find the design of boats very intersting and being able to see how it effects their handling on the water, and then doing all the thinking and analysis as to why is just very interesting to me. Not only am I pretty OCD about things, I am pretty analytical too. I just enjoy it.

And on the Swift Osprety…YEAH…I loved that boat. It was my first solo too and I sold it. That sale I regret. Great, great boat.

If I had the Osprey still it would fill the nich of both the Merlin and the YS solo in my opinion. Almost as fast as the Merlin (really very close), handles as well if not better than the YS solo, and is more seaworthy than either…and has very impressive acceleration.

If I could find one in expedition kevlar I might get it and use it for both flat and mild white water although still some reservations over the kevlar vs. royalex for rocky Class II/II+


Don’t worry Matt. You are not alone.

– Last Updated: Nov-18-09 1:59 PM EST –

Plenty of us have gone through a few boats in the quest for the one that makes us grin the most.
Talking solo touring canoes only I currently have my Osprey, Magic, Voyager, and Independence. I used to own a Clipper Sea 1 and a CD Solstice C1 conversion. I've demoed the Flashfire, Wildfire, Starfire, Guide, Argosey, Perigrine, Kestrel, SRT a couple of strippers I can't remember the names of and Turtles way cool ultralight whose name again I can't recall. And Whoops I forgot the J200!

Hmmm, maybe you got some catching up to do?

I never suggested a lack of skill
… on your part Matt. I guess we all go through the different stages. I’ve certainly been in the “boat quest” stage. But lately I’m in the “it’s mostly the paddler” stage. I’ll probably be back in the boat quest stage again in a few months. If so, I’ll surely be reading with interest your write ups on your experimentations.


– Last Updated: Nov-18-09 5:26 PM EST –

Merlin II was conceived as another in DY's long line of solo trippers; 1 Curtis solo tripper, 2 Curtis vagabond/Hemlock kestrel, 3 Sawyer autumn mist, 4 Curtis nomad/Hemlock peregrine, 5 Swift loon, 6 Swift heron.

With mild Swede form hull, differential rocker and shear, it was the most sophisticated of the line, and, when made in B/G laminate with wood trim, the best. That said, it is still a generalist's boat; pretty happy responding to a kneeling paddler with a single blade or a sitter with a bent when foot pegs are attached.

We felt that those more dedicated to sit and switch would trade up to the delta shaped, differentially rockered, Magic, which has a lineage of it's own: Sawyer's DY Special, SummerSong, ShockWave and the Texas Water Safari 17 stripper.

We felt those more interested in finite control on moving water would gravitate to WildFire/ FlashFire, which came out of Curtis ladybug and dragonfly. [The YS Solo, slightly Swede form and differentially rockered, is as much a pudgy Merlin II as a de-tuned descendant of WildFire.]

So, if you want a general purpose boat you've got it in Merlin II. If you want a high performance and maneuverable delta canoe for the BWCA, you've got it in Magic! If you want a high performance hull emphasizing maneuverability for the Pine Barrens, the YS Solo is compromised by that skegged tail.

I think I am coming to the same conclusion as CEW has stated above…the Merlin seems to be a fairly descent boat for both kneeling and sit and switch and therefore is pretty versatile. I paddled it again this morning for a good bit sit and switch and it did do fairly well. Not as well as the Magic in this regard but pretty respectable with good speed and pretty good tracking.

Not as maneuverable as a YS solo kneeling but acceptably so to carve good turn when moving.

Magic gets the nod for sitting but to me is really only good at sitting.

YS solo gets nod for maneuverability and to me is only good for kneeling.

I am starting to lean toward the Merlin a bit since it gives me the option to have a boat to paddle acceptably well with either style, and I like both.

Interestingly enough on CEW’s comments above, I actually happen to be going to the Pine Barrens this weekend and am taking…the YS solo. Perfect boat for that (especially with the longer thwarts I put it it which now make it super maneuverable).


happy log hopping
the water was high at Halloween and with the recent rains you will have to climb over logs that you normally can duck under.

Sitting seemed to be more practical for jumping out of the boat than kneeling…